The 28th April marks the annual Workers’ Memorial Day.
The memorial originated in Canada in the late 1980‘s, and by the late 90’s was being marked all over the world. The day is a time for remembering all workers killed by industrial injuries or occupational illnesses.
As Workers’ Memorial Day 2020 rolls around, it has never been more important to not only remember those who give their lives at work but to actively fight against the poor conditions that kill working class people. The Coronavirus crisis has taken many people out of the workplace, but there are still many millions in work, and for them it is a particularly dangerous time. NHS staff, shop workers and other frontline staff are all at high risk of contracting the disease, and this risk is worsened by the willful neglect of their employers. Firefighters and Ambulance staff are similarly exposed every time they leave their stations to help communities.
Stories of an underfunded NHS struggling to source even the most basic PPE are common. And in the private sectors like retail and some infrastructure services conditions are even worse as employers cut corners to maximise profits. Over 100 NHS staff alone have died of the virus since the start of the crisis, and the numbers of other frontline workers who have died or are dying have yet to be calculated. We can be sure that however many, it will be too many.
Workers’ Memorial Day is a time of remembrance, but it must also be a time where the working class come together to demand an end to the preventable conditions that take workers’ lives. 0161 stands in solidarity with all frontline workers who risk their lives every day during this crisis.